Ontario Newsroom

Building a Health Care System Everyone Can Rely On

Archived Backgrounder

Building a Health Care System Everyone Can Rely On

Office of the Premier

High-quality health care that is there for people whenever they need it and wherever they are in the province is a fundamental responsibility of the provincial government. Universal public health care is also part of Canada's national identity, woven into the very fabric of our diverse, caring and prosperous society. Every year, the health care system provides care to millions of people in Ontario, demonstrating that government has an essential role to play improving people's lives. It is why, every day, the Ontario government is making improvements to the health system that put patients and their families first.

Within Canada, Ontario is a leader in delivering benefits to patients by transforming the health care system. Ontario's total investment in health care has increased by $1 billion in 2016-17, including a number of key investments to improve access to quality care. Over the next two years, Ontario will continue to lead by implementing its Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care and investing in high quality, accessible health care for people in every community across the province.

Over the last several years, patient experiences and outcomes have steadily improved as a result of a number of actions already taken, including:

  • Hiring more doctors and nurses: For three years, the number of doctors working in Ontario has grown at a rate of nearly two per day. Today, 94 per cent of Ontarians have access to a family health care provider. In 2014-15, there were over 2,200 more nurses employed in Ontario. Over the last five years, 11,125 more nurses have been added to the front lines of Ontario's health system 
  • Expanding home and community care: Last year in Ontario, increased investments in home and community care meant over 645,000 people received a total of 28.7 million hours of personal support and home-making visits from Ontario's personal support workers, 6.9 million nursing visits and 1.7 million therapy visits, including physiotherapy, ‎occupational therapy and speech language therapy. These services helped people live independently at home and 200,000 people return home from hospital. Ontario is the first province to provide home-care related wait times
  • Introducing family health teams: Family Health Teams are now serving 206 communities and providing care to over 3.1 million Ontarians 
  • Building or rebuilding hospitals: Completely rebuilt or new hospitals since 2013 include:
    • Cornwall Community Hospital (Cornwall)
    • Halton Healthcare Services Corporation (Oakville)
    • Humber River Regional Hospital (Toronto)
    • Parkwood / St. Thomas Mental Health (London - St. Joseph's Health Care)
    • St. Joseph's Healthcare (Hamilton)
    • Women's College Hospital (Toronto)
    • Bridgepoint Health (Toronto)
  • Making prescription drugs and vaccines more affordable: 170,000 more seniors can benefit from a program that reduces their out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs. Flu shots are now available in over 2,500 pharmacies, and vaccines and newborn screening programs have been expanded
  • Expanding access to mental health and addictions care: In the first three years of Ontario's 10-year Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy, almost 800 more mental health workers now serve children and youth in Ontario communities, schools and courts. In addition, over 1,000 additional psychiatric consultations are being provided through expanded tele-mental health for children and youth in remote, rural and underserved regions
  • Shortening wait times for procedures and diagnostics: Ontario continues to be a leader in reducing wait times in categories such as hip and knee replacements, cardiac care, cancer care and CT scans, as noted by the last report from the Canadian Wait Time Alliance. In 2015, Ontario received the highest grade: A or A+ on nine wait time indicators. In July 2016, 97 per cent of priority four cancer surgeries were completed within the targets, an improvement of more than 35 per cent over the baseline

Over the next two years, Ontario will further improve patient care and health system sustainability by:

  • Reintroducing Bill 210 and delivering on the primary care guarantee: the proposed Patients First Act will better coordinate and integrate access to primary care and home and community care for all Ontarians, helping the government deliver on its commitment to connect a family doctor or nurse practitioner to everyone who wants one
  • Continuing to expand and improve home and community care: Enhancing home and community care is an essential way Ontario is building a 21st century health care system that provides the best possible care for your loved ones, when and where they need it. The 2016 Budget extended Ontario's commitment to increase funding by $250 million so as to expand capacity and deliver more high-quality home and community care. This increased funding is helping deliver on the government's commitment to grow the frontlines of health care, including adding an estimated 350,000 hours of nursing care and 1.3 million hours of personal support, enhancing home care for those who need it. The government will continue funding growth in home and community-based care at about five per cent per year to 2017-18
  • Responding to the need for better dementia support: Recognizing the immense challenge posed to patients, caregivers and health care providers by the growing incidence of dementia in Ontario's aging population, the province began consultations to inform a provincial dementia strategy. A draft will be available for public comment in fall 2016. To meet immediate needs, the 2016 Ontario Budget announced an additional $10 million annually to Behavioural Supports Ontario, in support of initiatives that help residents with dementia and other complex behaviours and neurological conditions. The province is also investing nearly $100 million in 2016 to enhance support for home care clients with high needs and their caregivers
  • Investing in better cancer care: Demand for cancer care services continues to grow, in part because of the government's investments in better diagnosis and screening. Over the next three years, Ontario is investing an additional $130 million in cancer care services. The government is also investing in infrastructure to improve access to highly specialized stem cell transplantation programs in Ontario. Stem cell transplantation is an essential component of treatment for people with lymphoma, leukemia, myeloma and other blood disorders
  • More long-term care: In a little over ten years, Ontario has nearly doubled long-term care funding to about $4 billion per year. Going forward, it will provide an annual increase of two per cent for the next three years. Ontario is also providing additional funding to encourage operators to accelerate the redevelopment of more than 30,000 additional long term care beds by 2025. The province will ensure people's loved ones are receiving the quality care they deserve by enhancing its risk-focused approach to inspections of long term care homes across Ontario
  • Expanding quality hospice and palliative care: Beginning in 2016, the government will invest an additional $75 million in community-based residential hospice and palliative care over three years. This will bring the government's funding of residential hospices to more than $55 million annually at maturity, helping fulfil a commitment to fund 20 more hospices and nearly double the number of people who will have access to quality end-of-life care, including in rural areas
  • Improve Indigenous health services and outcomes: Indigenous people in Ontario experience lower health status, including shorter life expectancy, higher infant mortality and higher rates of chronic and infectious diseases. In May 2016, Ontario announced that it will invest $222 million over the next three years to ensure Indigenous people have access to more culturally appropriate care and improved outcomes, focusing on the north where there are significant gaps in health services. This investment will be followed by sustained funding of $104.5 million annually to address health inequities and improve access to culturally appropriate health services over the long term. Ontario's Indigenous Health Action Plan will be implemented and evaluated in close partnership with Indigenous partners.

    The plan includes:
    • Investing in primary health care, including increasing physician services by 2,641 more days for 28 First Nations communities across the Sioux Lookout region
    • Providing cultural competency training for front-line health care providers and administrators who work with First Nations communities
    • Establishing up to 10 new or expanded primary care teams that include traditional healing
    • Expanding access to fresh fruits and vegetables for approximately 13,000 more Indigenous children in northern and remote communities
    • Expanding diabetes prevention and management in Indigenous communities
    • Providing more hospital beds for seniors care at Meno Ya Win Health Centre and increased funding to the Weeneebayko Area Health Authority for capital planning
    • Improving access to home and community care services, including on-reserve
    • Expanding life promotion and crisis support, such as trauma response teams, youth programs and mental health workers in schools
    • Expanding access to telemedicine for individuals who need clinical support
  • Ensuring fair compensation and investing in front-line health care professionals: The province is committed to growing the number of frontline healthcare professionals who provide high-quality patient care in Ontario. To do so, it has taken a firm stance that any new health care dollars must go to services in the community that provide care to the most people, and not only to higher salaries for administrators or certain specialists who are already receiving fair compensation for their services. The province will continue to work with Ontario's doctors to reach an agreement that honours this shared commitment to enhance primary care and put patients first. Ontario's doctors will continue to be among the most highly paid in Canada. Personal support workers are receiving the raises the government committed to, and that they deserve, for their role in caring for millions of people's loved ones. To help ensure every available resource is going towards patient care, the province will reduce bureaucratic inefficiencies by merging Community Care Access Centres with Local Health Integration Networks
  • Building new and improved hospitals: The province is investing more than $12 billion over the next 10 years to build new and improved hospitals. Over the next five years, 18 more hospitals across Ontario will complete major renovations or rebuilds, and approximately 20 more major projects will get underway. In 2016, hospitals are receiving a $345 million increase to base operating funding and an additional $50 million annually to keep facilities in a state of good repair for patients and their families
  • Making vaccines and prescription drugs more affordable: This month, the shingles vaccine will be available for free for seniors aged 65 to 70, saving people about $170. Today, 170,000 more seniors can benefit from a program that reduces their out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs. An additional 30,000 seniors will qualify for this program every year

Ontario's steadily improving health care system provides strong evidence that wait times can be reduced and quality care made more widely available when a concerted effort is made by all partners, including providers, health professionals, patients and government officials. Ontario will continue to implement the plan for better care it has developed with these partners and in partnership with the people of the province.